Sunday 25 September 2016

Cologne sex attackers may never be brought to justice, admit police

Justin Huggler

Published 25/02/2016 | 02:30

Police use pepper spray against supporters of anti-immigration right-wing movement Pegida after New Year’s Eve, in Cologne. Photo: Reuters
Police use pepper spray against supporters of anti-immigration right-wing movement Pegida after New Year’s Eve, in Cologne. Photo: Reuters

Most of those responsible for the Cologne sex attacks may never be brought to justice, the city's police chief has said.

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Jürgen Mathies told the BBC he "could not exclude" the possibility that most of the perpetrators will never be caught.

The admission came as an asylum seeker became the first person to be convicted in connection with the events of New Year's Eve. But the Moroccan man, who has not been named under German privacy laws, was charged with theft rather than sexual assault.

"The CCTV footage is not good enough to clearly identify sexual assaults. We can see some thefts but that's all," Mr Mathies, who took over as police chief in the wake of the attacks, said.

"We are relying on witness accounts and victims identifying their attackers."

Of the 14 suspects arrested so far, only one has been charged with sexual assault.

The rest are being held on suspicion of theft.

That is despite the police identifying 593 separate cases of sexual assault carried out in the area around the city's main train station on New Year's Eve.

In the first case to come to court, a 23-year-old Moroccan asylum seeker admitted stealing a woman's mobile phone amid the chaos of the sex attacks.

He was given a six-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay a fine of €100.

Angela Merkel has been under pressure over her "open-door" refugee policy since it emerged many of the suspects in the sex attacks are asylum seekers.

Police have so far identified a total of 73 suspects in connection with the events of the night - most of whom remain at large. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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